Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 | Black Friday 2013 Deals

Really cheap. Why, it's a slightly larger version of that very same tablet, but at a significantly higher cost. It's the Kindle Fire 8.9, a tick under two inches larger at the diagonal but with a starting price of $299 for 16GB, $100 more than the cheapest 7-inch Fire HD. Unboxing the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 was a familiar experience, as it looks and feels identical to its 7-inch predecessor. The tablet measures 9.45 x 6.5 inches (240 x 165mm) across but it's actually slightly thinner than the 7-inch model: 0.35 inch vs. 0.4 (8.9 vs. 10.3mm). Branding on the tablet is delightfully minimal, the Amazon logo subtly printed on the bottom and "kindle" embossed on the shiny band. Mind you, this is still a huge improvement over the original Kindle Fire, which lacked physical volume controls altogether. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is chock full of very similar stuff to its 7-inch predecessor, including a dual-core OMAP processor. Amazon doesn't advertise RAM but a system check shows 770MB. An LTE model is available, starting at $499 for the 32GB model. Here you can pay another $100 and go up to the full-fat Fire HD, a 64GB edition with LTE. The WiFi-only model includes the same MIMO wireless getup that we found to be quite impressive on the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, offering better range, reception and performance than other tablets and smartphones we tried. (For those curious about bands, it is as follows: LTE 17, 4; WCDMA 1, 2, 5, 8; GSM 850Mhz, 900Mhz, 1800Mhz and 1900MHz.) $499 is a bit dear for a Kindle device, but you do at least get an off-contract LTE tablet that has access to one of the most attractive prepaid data plans out there. Pay for that and Amazon will throw you another 20GB of Cloud Drive storage and even give you $10 to blow in the Amazon Appstore. Content downloads greater than 50MB in size must happen over WiFi, and for the moment Amazon Instant Videos cannot be streamed unless you're on WiFi. With tablets like the 2,048 x 1,536 fourth-gen iPad and 2,560 x 1,600 Nexus 10 on the market, it's a little hard to get too excited about the 8.9-inch 1,920 x 1,200 IPS LCD found in the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. The Kindle Fire HD doesn't offer quite the "Gosh I can't see the pixels" experience of the Nexus 10, but text is rendered very cleanly and of course 1080p videos look fantastic Book covers and movie posters look fine in the carousel, as do Kindle-optimized apps, but many third-party Android icons look atrocious. While the display is a definite step forward over the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, the speakers are a half-step back. Again, 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD has a dual-core TI OMAP4470 processor running at 1.5GHz, a 300MHz upgrade from its predecessor. This makes the heavy-handed Fire OS that's sitting on top of Android a bit more responsive, but things can still be sluggish from time to time. For comparison's sake, our top-scoring tablet, the fourth-gen iPad, burns through the test in 865ms. Amazon advertises 10 hours of battery life for the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, one hour less than the 7-inch version. (We tested with LTE disabled to better compare with the 7-inch model.) SOFTWARE The 8.9 is running the same user interface that the 7-inch model ushered in back in September. If you're looking for books, music or movies the breadth of selection is impressive. In the original Kindle Fire we found such claims of acceleration to be woefully overstated and even the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD rendered pages more slowly than the Nexus 7. At $299 and (way) up, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 finds itself starting $100 less than the cheapest comparable tablet, the Nexus 10. Then there's the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+, similarly 9-inch, similarly 1080p and similarly burdened with a heavily customized version of Android -- but starting for just $269 for the 16GB version and $299 for 32GB. At $199, the Kindle Fire HD 7 stacked up squarely against the Nexus 7 and, for power users, that's something of a tough sell. But, with a size and price that slots in well below much of the larger, 10-inch tablet competition, the $299 Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is more of a difficult proposition to directly compare. In general we're quite fond of 7-inch tablets and so, of these two, we'd still take the more portable 7-inch Kindle Fire HD. See Full Black Friday 2013 Deals | Kindle Fire Amazon See Full Black Friday 2013
 
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